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Cardiovascular health or fitness and vascular aging are associated with muscle strength and muscle mass. Last week we looked at the effect of whole body vibration training on muscle mass – this week we look at the effect of whole body vibration on muscle strength. 

There is plenty of evidence suggesting that whole body vibration exercise could be an alternative for increasing strength in both young and old. Strength has been found to have increased in all the following scenarios – whole body vibration on its own; whole body vibration combined with resistance training; in young athletes; in post-menopausal women, and in elderly populations.

As with anything however – a vibration training machine is just a tool – and it is how you use it and what parameters it operates at, that are going to make the difference between getting benefits for yourself or not.

Research shows …

Many studies reviewed have used a Power Plate machine which has a tri-planar 3D vibration. The vibration frequencies of Power Plate that are effective for strengthening lie between 25-40Hz. The training protocols involved training sessions three times per week, for a minimum of 15 minutes. 

To get the optimum results, we recommend performing a range of movements to offer variability and stimulate more muscle. 

Research also shows that the long-term benefits to the cardiovascular system show whole body vibration can improve circulation also, making it a very relevant method of cardiovascular therapy.

The immediate effects to circulation, of lying with arms or legs on a Power Plate machine, are self-evident. There are local increases in blood flow to the skin in the arms and legs immediately after a passive “massage” session – where no voluntary muscle contractions are performed. An increase in blood flow has also been seen straight after doing 10 minutes of static or dynamic squatting exercises.

Benefits for everyone

Research studies have looked at the effect of exercising on a Power Plate, in groups of overweight/obese women, in post-menopausal women and in hypertensive or pre-hypertensive women. A 12-week training programme led to drops in blood pressure, and reduction in arterial stiffness, improving arterial function.

In Type 2 diabetes sufferers, femoral artery blood flow and velocity increases suggest improvements in leg artery vasodilation after 12 weeks of WBVT.

Many elderly people have elevated systolic blood pressure, and arterial stiffening, and the likelihood of cardiovascular events is increased.

A final factor to consider when looking at heart healthy is fat. Body composition has serious consequences on heart health. Research has found that Power Plate training has greater potential to reduce visceral abdominal fat than a combination of aerobic and resistance training in middle-aged obese adults. An 8-month combination of resistance training and Power Plate was effective for decreasing total body fat percentage postmenopausal women. An 8 week study found it also effective in the young and a 6 month study found it effective in the elderly.

So Power Plate is for everybody – but do note that the addition of resistance to the Power Plate training had a marked effect in shifting those unwanted pounds.

The body’s long term chronic adaptations to whole body vibration training could translate into healthy heart benefits for not only the elderly.

Read more of the available research